Singer-songwriter Johnnie Mikel has accomplished so much at such a young age, collaborating and recording with industry heavy hitters and music legends. What's most impressive, is that he's managed to do good along the way, giving back to kids in need. We're proud to call him a What's In-Store Music client, and this week, we congratulate him on his debut of "Come With Me" on the current chart at #39 with 4,650 plays.
What’s the songwriting process for you like?
The songwriting process for me is new each time. No two songs are written the exact same way! However, when it comes to receiving inspiration, I typically write down lyric ideas in the notes in my phone. I also love recording voice memos when I have a really hooky melody stuck in my head. But more than anything, a lot of dwelling on the concept and storyline is important to me. I’ve always thought of myself as a lyricist first, so I’m always aiming to find fresh ways to present my ideas in writing sessions.
Who have you collaborated with recently and what did you learn from the experience?
I’ve gotten to work with a lot of great people recently on my new music! I’m so blessed to be surrounded by the best in the industry. On my project, I’ve worked with producers like Damon Sharpe, Tommy Lee, and Joe Crow. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to write with hit songwriters like Lindy Robbins and Lauren Christy. Walking into the studio with them for the first time was so exciting and sometimes intimidating. I honestly have so much respect for these talented individuals and their work! I was incredibly pleased that everyone was so kind and extremely supportive of my artistry and songwriting abilities. I walked away from these sessions with more confidence than ever, both personally and professionally. I’ve also gained friends for life in a lot of my collaborators!
How did you hone your art of storytelling/writing music?
Growing up, I was always doing something with the arts. I was really creative and also pretty introverted. From a young age, writing was how I expressed myself and communicated with others. Most of the time, you could find me writing short stories, poems, or even blogging. I’m honestly not sure how I got into it, but I think it was always a natural ability of mine that also felt very safe. I definitely came out of my shell once I hit 14 and picked up a guitar for the first time. I found that I could take my writings and put them to music and I never looked back! It took a lot of practice and diligence, which turned into studio time, performances, and networking. As soon as I turned 18, I moved to Nashville and began working full time in the industry. I’m extremely committed and passionate about what I love and for several years now, that’s been my career in music. Hard work, self-discovery, and my pure love of the craft are all major reasons why I’m where I am today.
Tell us about your One Word Foundation and how you give back to the community.
The One Word Foundation is something that I created not long after turning 18 and is definitely where my heart is. Through my foundation, I’m able to visit Boys & Girls Club locations, community centers, and music education programs to share my music with kids and teach them the value of their words – and how they can be used to build others up or tear them down. It’s all based off of a song of mine titled “One” which has the same message. Through the One Word Foundation, I’ve also benefitted several charities with a similar message by accepting donations and taking a percentage of ticket sales at my live shows. In 2016 after consistently touring, I was able to raise over $70,000 for these charities. Using my gifts to give back to others is very important to me and I’m grateful the One Word Foundation has allowed me to do just that.
How do you discover new music/artists, and what do you have playing in heavy rotation currently?
I discover new music by hanging out and also working in the industry. Pretty much everyone I know is involved in music one way or another. Whether they work behind the scenes, as a songwriter, artist, or just a fan… I’m surrounded by a lot of people with great taste. My friends and I are always sharing new music with each other. I also love going to live shows, even at small venues, to find undiscovered talent. Using social media and Spotify are also a favorite of mine. As far as what I’m listening to right now, more than anything it’s probably Kesha’s new album. I’m so obsessed with it! I love the passion she poured into her new project. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.
Finally, a shameless plug: What would you like our readers to know about you?
I definitely want people to know I’m a real artist on a mission. I have something to say and something to give through my art. I want to inspire and uplift others. Giving back is really important to me and more than anything I want to spread love and make others feel better about themselves. It’s kind of the common theme through all of my music.